We all know that during the Christmas period that the games ‘come thick and fast’ which means that the week 26 December to 1 January in Hammer’s History has seen more than its fair share of games. As a consequence I have split the week into two parts with today’s article looking just at Boxing Day; with the rest of the week covered in a separate post.
Of the 45 Boxing Day games played since 1958 we have won 13, drawn 12 and lost 20. Although the overall record is not so good in the higher scoring games we have had the edge. Starting in 1958 we completed a Christmas double over Tottenham with a 4-1 victory at White Hart Lane (having beaten them 2-1 at Upton Park the previous day). There have also been high scoring victories on the road at Blackpool (4-1 in 1996), Chelsea (4-2 in 1973 to climb off the bottom of the table), and Portsmouth (4-1 in 2008). On the flip side too much pudding and sherry was the harbinger of defeats at Villa (4-1 in 1975) and Tottenham (4-0 in 1986). We had also played Tottenham on Boxing Day a year earlier and the 1-0 defeat to an 85th minute Steve Perryman goal will forever be one of those ‘if-only’ matches from the memorable 1985/6 season.
A Boxing Day home fixture at Upton Park was often something special over the years including victories over Leicester (4-1 in 1967), Charlton (5-0 in 2000) and Derby (4-0 in 2001). Possibly the most unusual Boxing Day, however, was in 1963 when 10 Division 1 games returned a record 66 goals. Included in this was total was an 8-2 thrashing of West Ham by league leaders Blackburn Rovers. A contemporary report summed up the game as follows:
“West Ham’s tactics were all wrong and their covering terrible. Blackburn on a rain-lashed, pudding of a pitch, banged the ball about with poise and precision. It was attrition warfare, as Fred Pickering opened the scoring after seven minutes and Bryan Douglas made it two after half an hour. Before the break, it was 4-0 with goals from Andy McEvoy and Mike Ferguson. In the second half, Pickering and McEvoy strolled through the Hammers’ ‘woefully weak defence’ to claim their hat tricks and, despite Johnny Byrne’s double, there was no way back.”
The full list of results for that day:
Interestingly, in the return set of fixtures which took place just two days later: West Ham (with juts one change; Bovington in for Peters) beat Blackburn 3-1 at Ewood Park to begin a run in which Rovers eventually slid down to seventh in the table; Ipswich took their revenge on Fulham winning 4-2 at Portman Road (although they were relegated at the end of the season); Manchester United recovered from their mauling against Burnley to hammer them 5-1 at Old Trafford; and Bolton overcame Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 in their return game.
v Blackburn (H): Standen, Bond, Burkett, Peters, Brown, Moore, Brabrook, Boyce, Byrne, Hurst, Sissons
v Blackburn (A): Standen, Bond, Burkett, Bovington, Brown, Moore, Brabrook, Boyce, Byrne, Hurst, Sissons